Sharks can intimidating creatures for many people but they are greatly misunderstood species. There are about 440 different types of sharks in the ocean, each unique from one another. The best way to learn more about these fishes and their true nature is by experiencing the activity of shark diving.
We already have a list of thrilling extreme sports like sky diving, volcano boarding, Heli skiing, and much more that people thoroughly enjoy. But one cannot deny the adventurous and adrenaline-filled activity of swimming with sharks which are famously referred to as shark diving.
Although this extreme sport looks terrifying where divers may feel vulnerable swimming with magnificent sharks, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Moreover, shark attacks are very rare and almost non-existent if you choose a responsible tour operator and follow all the necessary instructions.
How does shark diving work?
There are primarily two methods through which you can indulge in shark diving. They are as follows:
1. Shark cage diving
This is one of the most popular and common methods of diving with sharks underwater. Here, divers, as well as non-divers alike, can participate and experience it.
Shark cage diving is also the safest yet allows you to observe sharks from a close distance. A rectangular cage made up of steel is attached to the boat and fits a minimum of four divers. Once the cage is lowered underwater and fully submerged, you are free to enjoy the sharks’ circling within the feet of the cage.
The strong and sturdy cage acts as a protective barrier between divers and sharks. Divers only need to have basic equipment to scuba dive which is readily provided by the company. These include a wetsuit, a snorkel, and a scuba gear if you are a certified scuba diver.
Once the sharks arrive, you can view them for 20 to 30 minutes while they swim around you. However, if you want to experience shark diving in the open without any barriers, the next one is definitely for you.
2. Open water diving
This is one of the most extreme ways to see sharks by literally swimming with them in their natural habitat. With no cages to disturb or any safety link to the boat, it is just you and the sharks in the wide ocean. This method is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with these fishes as well as learn more about them.
Yet, only a few places on Earth offer open water shark diving. But unlike cage diving, you cannot jump right into it as there are certain steps to be followed. To be deemed fit to swim with sharks you need to have an advanced open water certification and carry relevant scuba diving equipment.
Several places around the world offer shark diving. But we have curated the top 5 destinations that offer a quality shark diving experience:
1. Isla Guadalupe, New Mexico
Isla Guadalupe is one of the best and premium places to dive with great white sharks. This volcanic island lies 150 miles off of the Baja California Peninsula. Isla Guadalupe is also an uninhabited island and is only accessible via liveaboard.
A good number of boats offer cage shark diving where multiple white sharks can be seen. The visibility is clear and its pristine conditions lets divers and non-divers enjoy the experience.
The best season for diving at Isla Guadalupe is from July to November.
2. Dyer Island and Gansbaai, South Africa
Gansbaai is known historically as the white shark capital of the world. The town runs over a 200 mile stretch of coastline between Gansbaai and Mossel Bay, on South Africa’s southwestern tip.
Located only five miles off shore from Gaansbai, the Dyer Island proves to be one of the best places to observe the sharks. The island is home to more than 60,000 resident cape fur seals that attract a huge population of white sharks around the area.
Common sightings of Bronzer whaler sharks and Southern right whales are also observed in Gansbaai. Tour operators run near Mossel Bay and False Bay in Gansbaai for tourists, snorkelers, and divers.
While shark diving in Gaansabi is open all year round, the best sightings are observed from May to October.
3. O’ahu, USA
O’ahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian islands where plentiful operators run shark diving trips in the North Shore. Hawaii houses 40 species of sharks where you can spot the famous Galapagos, shark tiger, and sandbar as well as the occasional silky, blue, and hammerhead shark.
In O’ahu, the best shark encounters occur three miles out where the ocean reaches a depth of 500 feet. Open shark diving without tanks can also be undertaken at O’ahu giving one a rare opportunity.
The sheer number of sharks present on the island makes up for daily sightings. Moreover, the pleasant climatic conditions make the experience as comfortable as possible.
Although seen all year round, the best seasons to visit O’ahu for shark diving are during spring and early summer.
4. Neptune Islands, Australia
Australia is renowned for being the original shark cage diving destination and provide an authentic experience. The Neptune island in the country lies in the Spencer Gulf located in South Australia.
The islands form a marine reserve or a protected conservation park. Here, great white sharks are in abundance.
Neptune Islands is also one of the only sites that place their cages on the seafloor. This offers a unique perspective and vantage point for witnessing sharks swimming above.
The best sightings of sharks at Neptune Islands occurs from May to October
5. Cocos island, Costa Rica
Cocos Island is situated 540 kilometers off the Costa Rican mainland and has ample of hammerhead sharks encounter. The island has rich marine life and nutrient-filled currents. This designated UNESCO world heritage site is only accessible through lifeboats
Besides hammerheads, divers can also view Galapagos, Silky, Tiger, Blacktip, Whitetip Reef, Silvertip, and Guitar sharks. There are also a huge number of manta rays and Mobula rays as well as diverse species of enormous fishes in the waters of Cocos Island.
The best time to visit Cocos Island for shark diving is from June to November, during the rainy season.
Shark diving is truly one of the greatest experiences one can undertake. Moreover, this extreme sport can help one understand more about sharks and discard the negative stereotypes associated with them.
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